Thursday, August 13, 2009
From the rainiest mountain in the world (Mount Waialeale, average about 40 FEET yearly) radiate steep shoulders covered in inscrutable tangles of greenery—and laced in the creases by streams and waterfalls. Green on green, thick carpets under a woven canopy of leaves and vines, an uncountable melange of plantlife fights for space and daylight. Kauai is called aptly the Garden Isle, a Garden of Eden, where, ironically, flora must struggle for survival despite inhabiting such fertile soil and optimum conditions.
One of the best places to see the green show is the Keahua Arboretum, which is several miles above the coastal town of Kapa'a on the east side of the island. You have a choice of several trails, including a short turkey trot around the grounds, a 10-mile round-trip hike or bike to the "Blue Hole" at the base of Waialeale, and the 14-mile Powerline Trail that crosses the island and pops out at Princeville on the north shore. But maybe the best choice is the Kuilau Ridge Trail. This family-pleaser delivers the drama of a jagged-ridge hike with relatively minimumal of effort (4.5 miles, round trip, with 500 feet of elevation gain), taking forests, ferny gardens, and and a picnic glade with blue-water views. See page 84 of Kauai Trailblazer.